In the United States, a telephone company
that provides local service ("Dial Tone
") in an area as well as connecting calls which are placed to other telephones located within that area, also called an LEC
. Examples of local exchange carriers include many of the former Baby Bells
such as Verison
(created from the merger of GTE
and Bell Atlantic
, and New Jersey Bell
), Pacific Bell
(Formerly Illinois Bell
), and Bell South
A local exchange carrier should not be confused with a long distance carrier which is allowed to carry telephone calls outside of the area handled by the local exchange carrier, called a Local Access Transport Area or LATA. Because local exchange carriers have typically been monopolies, they are not permitted under FCC rules to carry long distance telephone calls until they show they have opened up their local service to Competitive Local Exchange Companies.
Under the rules for Cellular Telephone service, the LEC was automatically given the Cellular "B" side license for that region; the Cellular "A" side license was issued by auction.